A new rooster has begun crowing at Bountiful. With a fiery red comb and shimmery black/green tail, Rudolph Valentino lives up to his illustriously alluring namesake. He is adorned like royalty, as Rudy’s gingery feathers appear clear-coated in diamonds. Hard to think a chicken, and a pint-sized bantam at that, could take your breath away.
A noble bloodline propels Rudy; he is a second-generation Bountiful bird. Mystique, his mother, was no stranger to beauty with a tapestry of earth-toned feathers that resembled armor one moment, abstract art the next. Soon after Rudy’s birth, however, Mystique disappeared. So is the way of the wild.
Early this spring, Mystique had about nine babies. When a few perished due to harsh nights or predators, Jerry snatched up the remaining six and housed them safely on the porch with a heat lamp and food. We were oblivious to Rudy’s beauty then. All six chicks were nearly identical and totally adorable. Once they grew large enough to survive with the rest of our free-range flock, Jerry released them during feeding time, hoping they’d jump into the mosh pit of scratchers for a peck. Didn’t exactly happen that way. The chicks panicked and made a beeline for the woods never to be seen again … all except two—Rudy and his Mystique-like sister, Misty. Months later, they remain inseparable. Where he goes, she follows, sometimes mingling briefly with the flock—typically just during feeding—usually cavorting alone, a solitary duo.
Misty has grown up, as has Rudy, who stands taller these days and seems larger than his bantam uncles, leaving us wondering about his paternity. As for his beauty, it snuck up on us. We regularly saw the siblings on the fringe of the pasture, tucking themselves into the back woods, just out of sight. But one day, they must have forgotten to hide, must have grown accustomed to the tall flesh bags that occasionally throw out food. That’s when Rudy’s beauty struck us. We were actually marveling at the intricacies of Misty’s feathers, so much like her mom’s, when the sun shone just right as to bring out the radiance of Señor Valentino. We gasped. Actually gasped … at a chicken! That’s when we named the little heartbreaker. How a little, fluffy black chick can transform into such a colorful creature with enviably great posture is God at His most creative and playful. And just recently, less than a week ago, Rudy found his voice. For the first time, I saw him throw back his red comb and part his beak to crow. He was born here; our only rooster with that pedigree. With his crow, he claimed his birthright. Magnificent.
Watch out, Nigel, Capt. Jack, Barbossa, and Tufty, Rudolph Valentino has come of age.